Recognized as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1962, Halong Bay (also referred to as the Land of Descending Dragon) has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern Vietnam. Covered by nearly 2000 beautiful islets and grottos, Halong Bay attracts a lot of domestic and international travelers from all parts of the world to come and visit because of its magnificent views.
What is overnight cruising in Halong Bay?
There are several ways to enjoy the beauty of Halong Bay; however, taking an overnight cruise can be considered as the best as you can travel around the bay all day and night. Concerning booking a Halong Bay Cruise, you can handle it by yourself but booking with a travel agency should be advised since travel consultants will assist you in finding out the best cabin for your group, preparing visa application, means of transportation or even diet requirements. After your reservation has been completed, all you have to do is excitedly waiting till the departure time comes.
Your journey normally starts in Hanoi. There are three options for transportation service including shuttle bus, private car and seaplane. You should notice that the shuttle bus only picks up customers from hotels located in the Old Quarter at around 7.30 - 8.30 am. Outside this area, you are advised to take a taxi to a meeting point like the cruise office address and wait for the shuttle bus to pick you up there. The pick-up time cannot be fixed as the bus has to move around to pick up several ones. Meanwhile, the private car is much more convenient because it picks up only one group anywhere in Hanoi at 9.00 am and then travels straight to Halong Bay.
Traveling by shuttle bus or private car can be seen as an advantage as you will see famous sites in Vietnam such as the Red River and Long Bien Bridge. It often takes you around 4 hours to reach the harbor in Halong Bay (Tuan Chau or Hon Gai harbor) by national roads and around 2 – 2.5 hours via the new expressways Hanoi – Haiphong – Halong. On the way, you can have a short break in some workshops in Hai Duong Province, which are full of hand-made souvenirs and pottery products. You are free to buy one as a gift at a reasonable price. After about 15 - 30 minutes, the car will continue to transfer you to the harbor in Halong.
After getting off the car, you can take a rest in the waiting lounge, drink some free tea while waiting for the check-in time on board. Normally, cruises will start at around 12 a.m. Once you get on the boat, your amazing floating trip in Halong Bay begins. You are warmly welcomed by the cruise staff, introduced with safety instructions and a brief itinerary for your first day. Then, it is time for lunch while the cruise is slowly leaving the harbor.
In actuality, different cruises have different itineraries. After lunchtime, you can take a short rest in your cabin whilst preparing yourselves for up-coming exciting activities. You will be transferred to a small tender with about 20 other passengers to travel to sites for activities. Each passenger is equipped with a life jacket for safety insurance. The activity that is expected most should be kayaking. The cruise guide will instruct you how to do kayaking and then you can discover the nearby site by yourselves. Do not miss the chance of experiencing kayaking and rowing the boat around since it will definitely be an amazing experience and a great chance to see the beauty of Halong Bay. Then, you move to Titov Island for hiking in mountains or swimming and volleyball activities in the beach, which is absolutely relaxing.
In the late afternoon, there is often a cooking class. Attending the class, you are taught how to make Vietnamese spring roll or fresh spring roll and enjoy the food that you made yourself. At 7.00 pm, dinners are served with fresh delicious seafood in the dining room. You could have little chit chat with your partners and other passengers while enjoying your dinner. For some cruises, if you love to have dinner with privacy, dinners can be served in your room’s terrace or balcony as your request. In the late evening, you can participate in squid fishing activity or lie down on the sundeck for relaxation in the slow melody. The first day on boat ends at midnight and you should get back to your room, get to sleep and prepare for the next coming day.
The second day starts in the early morning with Tai Chi (or Tai Chi Chuan) class on the sundeck. Tai chi is a set of slow controlled movements, which is really good for your health and appetite. If you are not interested in taking part in the class, you can have a cup of coffee whilst breathing fresh air and seeing the stunning sunrise in the bay. After that, you have breakfast in the dining room and listen to the itinerary for that day. Normally, you will be taken to visit famous caves in the areas such as Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave, or Me Cung Cave.
Do not forget to bring with you a good camera to capture memorable moments and spectacular views. After visiting the caves, you properly take a short rest in your room and get your luggage ready for check-out time. Before leaving the boat, you should complete the check-out procedures at the reception desk and leave the staff some tips for their caring and services. At around 9.00 am, you will have brunch before getting on the harbor to go back to Hanoi. The driver will pick you up at the same waiting lounge, transfer you back to Hanoi and drop you off at your hotel at around from 4.00 pm to 5 pm (by shuttle bus) or from 3.00 to 4.30 pm (by private car). The trip ends here. You might miss Halong Bay and want to go back after your trip. Your partners and you are always welcomed anytime.
We hope that you will have a wonderful trip in Halong Bay!
Author: Trang Nguyen
Updated: July 09, 2016